The One Where The VP Sales Called Us In

Summary / TL;DR: The VP of sales discovered the cause for his declining win rates was found in his sales engagement process and his offer structure.

In this engagement, we were retained by the Vice President of Sales for a midsize B2B software company that provided A.I. based mining tools for social media data. The V.P. of Sales was becoming increasingly frustrated because she had seen an increase in the Loss rate over the past several quarters, and she wanted to get to the bottom of why they were losing. 

The Win / Loss codes that were coming out of her CRM system just weren’t giving actionable information or informing her sufficiently to be able to understand what the root cause of the issue was. To ferret out the answer, we performed Win / Loss interviews for about 40% of their Loss deals over a three-quarter period to see if we could identify any common patterns or themes that were happening in those Losses. As usual, we asked that end customer to evaluate the vendor on their whole offer and specifically four key factors:  sales engagement, offer, product, and brand. 

When we looked at the results of those Win / Loss interviews, we found that although there were a variety of reasons why the vendor lost, in the end, there was one common theme that kept recurring that was certainly worthy of attention. 

It fell into two areas. The first was that the lost customers often expressed the sentiment that they felt rushed through the sales process, and they felt as though the sales team wasn’t taking the time to truly understand their industry and their business requirements. Instead, they felt they were being forced through a sales cycle as quickly as possible. In the words of one customer, “It seemed like the number one goal was to get me into a features/function discussion as soon as they possibly could.” 

The second emerging trend that we saw was the complexity of the vendor’s pricing offer. They’d spent some time trying to create an outcome-based pricing offer as opposed to a more traditional one. Unfortunately, many of the customers found this quite difficult to understand and expressed frustration at not being able to get a pricing structure that allowed them to put price predictability in place and instead were faced with this quite complex pricing structure that was based on outcomes that were oftentimes not within the vendor’s control.

In general, the product was assessed very well, as was the vendor’s brand – both well-respected and well-liked by the Loss customers that we spoke to. In fact, in some cases, we actually saw that the customer rated the product as one of the favorable things in regards to the vendor and actually counterbalanced some of the negatives that ultimately led to the Loss. 

As a result of these revelations, the V.P. of Sales put in a new sales training program for her sales team.  Additionally, she put in place quite innovative monthly peer review sessions where each salesperson would pitch to a room of other sales reps using the standard company pitch and receive critique and feedback. 

This is just one example of how Win / Loss interviews can provide great benefit – in this case to the VP of Sales – so that they can understand better where they doing well in the marketplace and where they can improve. 

Related Resources
Copyright, 2020